Today I made a man.
I ate a piece
of the music of the train overhead
and slathered a shoulder of blue.
The day was a week humming a 12-bar blues
I made up on the spot. The spot was red,
and all that’s buried under it remembers.
Every paper became the man’s face – his untamed
jaw, the glue and hank
of black nap, charcoal of neck.
I located a smile, but kept turning through pictures
until I found ivory teeth and rifts
of space. I painted
the cheerful crops and flocks of his senses.
I made his warm fingers.
He lived in an eye (mostly internal, polite)
seeing dust wheels and cabins.
The train just then
rumbled through the envelope of city,
but I had no ears for the chord.
I was in the garden
of Carolina-familiar with the homeswirl of birdwings
and everyone’s scrubbed shadow scratching up each other
in a tangle of neighbors.
My man that I made with the big slow eye
cups a leaf in his palm
and passes me his prayer for Harlem.
We look over the homely plot of sun,
which dropped like a token on our starless blocks of opinion,
our eyes crammed with apartments and ordinary hope.
Lauren Camp is the author of three books, most recently One Hundred Hungers, winner of the Dorset Prize (Tupelo Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry International, At Length, Beloit Poetry Journal, and as a Poem-a-Day for Poets.org. Other literary honors include the Margaret Randall Poetry Prize, the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Award, a Black Earth Institute Fellowship. This piece was originally published inThis Business of Wisdom (West End Press, 2010). First published with The Studio Museum in Harlem and “The Bearden Project”.